Monthly Archives: October 2017

7 tips to increase email recipients’ time on page

If you’ve ever kept tabs on your blog or web readership using an analytics tool, you likely know a key performance metric is “time on page,” a measure of how long the average reader spent on a particular piece of content.

Did they just skim it, read it or quickly click away? Read time or time-on-page is a good way to know if your readers are engaging with your content.

And though it’s a metric often associated with blogs and web pages, it’s just as valuable for other types of written content, namely, email. For internal communicators, knowing if and how long employees are reading an email can be the difference between knowing a message was received or ignored.

Here are seven ways internal communications professionals can keep those readership numbers high:

1. Write compelling content.

To put it simply, readers won’t keep something open if it isn’t worth reading. In a post on its blog, online advertising software firm WordStream makes the point that content should be three things: useful, entertaining and accessible. Make your content digestible (more on that in a minute), but don’t be afraid to write it in a relatable voice.

2. Design for different devices.

According to Litmus, a company that specializes in email previews, people’s email attention spans are actually growing. But communicators should still do all they can to gain and hold readers’ attention. Given the growth in email on mobile devices, one way to do that is using responsive design.

3. Use images, but not exclusively.

Content creators know good imagery and graphics is proven to draw eyeballs, but overloading an email with an image or using obvious stock imagery that doesn’t complement the content may hurt more than help. Word content should be text, and images should visually accentuate the story. According to Quicksprout, the most popular pages have an image for every 350 words or so.

4. Display quickly.

If readers see gray boxes or red x’s instead of images, it’s more likely they’ll click away before they read a word. Images are sometimes blocked from email, particularly when you are using external email marketing tools. Some mobile devices such as iPhones will only download 250KB of images automatically. For email to work effectively, the images need to display automatically and quickly. So it’s important to balance images with text and to size images down to screen pixel depths.

5. Break up your content.

Long paragraphs and monolithic walls of text are not inviting to someone opening an email. Email is for processing, and readers’ eyes need to be able to scan chunks of content. That requires effective use of white space to break up the text, not just paragraph breaks. Chloe Digital suggests using H2 and H3 subheadings, bullets, numbered lists, and bold text to add visual diversity.

6. Use the “inverted pyramid.”

Put the most important information or action request right in the headline and subhead. Don’t leave your readers frustrated because your email isn’t getting to the point. Torque magazine suggests using the content structure newspapers have employed for centuries, putting the most important information in the first few paragraphs, then adding increasing details of decreasing importance thereafter.

7. Check for clear, simple language.

Before you hit “send,” consider running the message through a readability checker to see if your content is easy to read or a bit of a slog. The easier it is to read—less jargon, fewer acroynms, less complex sentence structure and word choices, and the higher it scores on the Flesch Reading Ease scale—and the more likely it will be that your message is read and understood.

Learn more about how communicators are measuring their communications efforts by downloading PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.

Quantitative or Qualitative: How surveys and focus groups help measure internal communications effectiveness

After making the sometimes arduous decisions of which internal communications channels and programs are the best for your organization, the question of “Is it working?” lingers for comms professionals.

There are two viable measurement methods for answering that question.

First there isthe quantitative data, which comes in the form of metrics and analytics gathered from your organization’s use of email, intranet pages, mobile pages and other communication tools. Qualitative data will tell you how many employees are reading an email message or regularly utilizing your intranet site. What that doesn’t tell you is why, and that’s is where qualitative data comes in.

Qualitative data is the internal communications feedback you get direct from employees by conducting surveys and focus groups. Qualitative data, using properly formed questions, can tell you why employees participate or now, and how they feel about the channel, program or campaign.

While surveys and focus groups are equally worthwhile methods of gathering qualitative information, each one achieves different things. Quantum Workplace points out the difference:

Often the employee survey itself simply uncovers weaknesses and strengths, but it doesn’t always point to action steps for improvements. This is the next part of the conversation and where employee focus groups can provide insight on how to improve employee engagement.

A broad survey of hundreds or thousands of people can often serve as a starting point for digging deeper using focus groups of 10 to 12 employees, Quantum Workplace’s article suggests.

The Society for Human Resource Management has provided a detailed, six-step outline communicators can use to set up an employee focus group, starting with choosing a purpose statement, through developing questions, to selecting a facilitator, inviting participants, holding the actual meeting, and then analyzing the findings.

SHRM’s guide suggests that “a productive focus group is much more than a chat session,” and requires care and planning to make sure the results are useful.

Surveys, likewise, require careful planning. The way a question is worded will impact not only the answer, but how participates feel. In many ways, communicators must consider the tone of a survey just like they do other communications. According to Custom Insight, “communicating and establishing trust will also increase the survey response rate as well as the candor of the responses.”

Like SHRM’s focus group guide, Custom Insight provides a planning guide for surveys, with tips for alerting employees that the survey is coming, then combing the results for information that can improve internal communications.

In a post on his blog, internal communications expert Shel Holtz notes that it’s important for communicators to not just ask employees about tools and features they currently use; they should describe possibilities that could come in the form of new tools:

If the responses come back pointing toward a mobile app or mobile version of an internal social network, you’ll know all you need to: You’ll know that employees don’t yet know what delivery mechanism they want. It is up to internal communicators to make that mechanism available.

Surveys and focus groups go hand-in-hand. According to Quantum Workplace, employees who receive follow-ups after a survey (possibly in the form of a focus group) are 12 times more engaged than those who have no follow-up.

To learn more about how communicators are measuring their communications efforts, download PoliteMail’s 2016-2017 Internal Communications Survey Results.